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I've been a house painter, dishwasher, broiler cook, private detective, military intelligence analyst, and I spent nearly 40 years as a reporter covering crime, 26 of them for the San Francisco Chronicle. These days I write science fiction, fantasy, horror and crime fiction, and I blog about books, films and crimes that don't receive sufficient attention from the mainstream media. I would like to be Elmore Leonard, Raymond Chandler, Ross MacDonald, Dashiell Hammett or George V. Higgins, but all of them are dead so I'll just stick with what I am already doing. . .

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Bosch and Chu run into Departmental Politics Re-investigating an Impossible Cold Case

The Drop
(A Harry Bosch Novel)

By Michael Connelly
789 KB, 401 pages
ISBN: 1409134288
Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (November 28, 2011)

This story is set immediately prior to the last Connelly book, The Black Box.  When I picked it up, I mistakenly thought it was a new Harry Bosch novel, but it turns out I was the victim of Amazon's habit of inundating readers with ads for books by authors they have enjoyed in the past.

No matter, though: I don't regret having spent the money on The Drop because it is a solid thriller even if it is more than a year old.

The Drop is not Michael Connelly's newest thriller, but it's a winner nonetheless

In summary, when the solution to a cold case reached by two other L.A.P.D. detectives turns out to be impossible (DNA points to an ostensible perp with a felony sex crimes history, but the suspect would have been eight years old at the time the crime was committed), Bosch and his partner, David Chu, are assigned to take a second look at the evidence. Somebody appears to have messed up, but it isn't clear whether the misidentification is a one-off, or whether it will effect scores of other cases.

Before our two sleuths can really get started, Bosch gets dragged off the case to investigate the death of an L.A. city councilmember's son.

As the second case unfolds, Bosch runs into corrupt politics, a long-standing feud with the councilman, a pattern of police brutality and the continuing effect of all these past events in the present day. Someone high in city government is apparently pulling strings, and it is up to Bosch to avoid getting tangled up in them.

This is another good Bosch thriller with a close eye for police procedure, nicely drawn characters, a pair of compelling mysteries and plenty of time out for Bosch to interact with his teenage daughter, a peach of a character. The questions facing readers are: can our cold case expert sort out these two deaths without being sacrificed to the power structure? Can Bosch get the evidence needed to take a serial killer with 37 victims off the street? Will Chu, in a fit of pique, sabotage one of the cases to spite his new partner? and can the cops convince a sex crime victim who has, himself, become a predatory criminal, to help them close a long-standing mystery?

The drop isn't quite up to the standard Connelly managed in The Black Box, but it is still a solid thriller. If Connelly's latest was your first serving of Detective Bosch and you, like me, enjoyed the book, now is as good a time as any to catch up with the earlier novels in this series.

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